The answer is simple. Sales and marketing are like siblings. They need and love each other, but they get on each other’s nerves and are naturally quite competitive with one another. The relationship can be fostered to be big and beautiful, but like any relationship, it requires work. It starts with sharing a common language and ends with a unified vision.
Sales language and marketing language have to be aligned. The lexicon has to include shared definitions of things like “campaigns” and “qualified leads.”
It also helps if the sales team believes in the concept of “brand” as much as the marketing teams do. More often than not, they do, but they are cynical about its value. Salespeople believe in relationships as the crux of the process, while marketers believe in stories that fuel relationships. Neither are wrong, but neither are 100% accurate by themselves. Stories and messaging get a salesperson in the door. Relationships close deals.
And both sides need to agree that a campaign is more than a series of emails to a target -- it’s any combination of the tools you have available to you. A campaign can be email, media, social, events, communications and more. It can also include a sales deck, because that is a key component of the sales team arsenal. If you understand the elements of a campaign, you can work together to bring it to fruition.
Having a unified vision is easy to talk about, but you need to look at systems and reporting in order to advance that initial vision. Commonly, the sales and marketing team will be aligned on demand generation and target revenue goals. Where they sometimes diverge is on the idea of “marketing-initiated pipeline” vs. “sales-initiated pipeline.” This model of reporting sets the teams at odds. You spend more time trying to attain credit and less time focused on reducing friction in the sales process.
Reducing that friction is more important than anything else because it means you maximized all your efforts and not just one source. I recommend the term “marketing-touched” and a true attribution model as a better way of understanding the journey a lead takes on its path to become a customer. That gives everyone credit along the way and it emphasizes how both teams are crucial for success.
Neither sales nor marketing can exist without the other. Even the best SaaS companies who tell the most amazing stories about growth being “product-led” will eventually fess up that there were sales and marketing teams aligned to craft, manifest and report on the effect of a shared story derived from a unified vision.
In every step of my career to date, sales and marketing have been aligned. Salespeople tend to be some of my best friends. I even married a salesperson, so I am the poster child for sales and marketing getting along.
Of course, you need product alignment with marketing too, but that is a topic for a different column in a different week.